EF Kids & Teens is the largest afterschool English education provider with 100s of centers in China. It is part of EF Education First, which is the largest private education company in the world. For over 25 years, EF has been working to change the way Chinese people see the world by teaching English to children aged 3 to 18. EF employs a unique teaching approach focused on developing soft skills students need to succeed academically and in life.
At EF’s English education centers, children attend several after-school classes per week. Because the (grand-)parents are keen to follow the progress of their child, EF designed an IOS/Android app to track the child’s homework. Teachers would provide personalized updates via this app, while the parent remained in touch with a dedicated Progress Advisor via WeChat. Payments for any additional activities or new course credit would take place at the center. The Progress Advisor (PA) would often pay on behalf of the parent using the school’s POS, who would then sent the money via WeChat to their PA.
With all interaction and payments happening via the Progress Advisor on WeChat, the adoption of this EF Parent application was low. This was a problem for EF because the logic for its referral program functioned in this app. As the parents and PAs worked around EF infrastructure, there was also limited oversight in the interactions taking place and the customer’s personal data was not kept securely. Given the high turn-over rate in the Progress Advisor role, this was problematic. On top of that, any refund handling was done via the bankcard used to make the payment, which in a lot of cases was the Progress Advisor’s bankcard.
In brief, EF was facing several challenges:
- Missed opportunities for loyalty, upsell and referral
- Low ROI on complex IT infrastructure required to maintain iOS and Android apps
- Data security and privacy protection issues as staff worked outside secure infrastructure, e.g. personal chat history
- Parents rely on PAs to make payments on their behalf, resulting in additional complications when handling refunds
After a thorough evaluation of the current state through one-on-one interviews, data analysis and observation, our team designed a WeChat strategy for EF to improve the customer experience, open up new revenue opportunities, reduce organizational overhead and reduce security risks. This included the following two mini-programs: (1) Parent Mini-program and (2) Progress Advisor Mini-program. To support the implementation of these programs, several core processes were re-engineered from the ground up.
The first step was replacing the EF Parent application with a Parent Mini-program. This made sense, because most interactions were taking place in WeChat already. Go where your customer is. The development of the mini-program itself was outsourced, so EF no longer required its iOS and Android developers.
The Parent mini-program had several core features: